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Responsible Recycling Task Force from King County's Solid Waste Division

Responsible Recycling Task Force

In April 2018, SWAC and MSWMAC formed the Responsible Recycling Task Force (Task Force) to respond to changes in international recycling markets and develop a coordinated approach to improving recycling in the region. The Task Force consists of representatives from King County, the City of Seattle, cities in King County, solid waste haulers, and stakeholders.

For years, recycling programs have relied on international export markets to process our materials. When the "China Sword" international restrictions on exports of recyclable materials went into force in January 2018, the markets for mixed paper and plastics took a hit. The lack of markets for these materials, increased contamination and the introduction of difficult-to-recycle packaging materials has challenged the viability of our recycling programs.

The Task Force recommends immediate, mid-term, and long-term Action Items to address these challenges in the Responsible Recycling Task Force Recommendations Report Download PDF 450 K. The Action Items were developed by following the "responsible recycling framework" which calls for recycling systems to:

  • Focus on the quality vs. quantity of recyclables.
  • Use consistent messaging across the region.
  • Prioritize domestic processing and markets.
  • Consider the social and environmental effects of exporting recyclables.
  • Create domestic demand for recyclables.
  • Realize that responsible recycling is not free.
  • Measure real recycling.

Reports and action item deliverables

Meeting minutes and presentations

News releases


Lauren Cole email Lauren Cole
Project Manager
King County Solid Waste Division
Telephone: 206-477-5270
TTY Relay: 711

King County Solid Waste Division mission: Waste Prevention, Resource Recovery, Waste Disposal

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